World Youth Day 2008: An Amazing Journey 


R Wijiaya

Pengantar:      Sebuah acara besar orang muda katolik se-dunia baru saja usai digelar. Acara yang bertajuk ‘World Youth Day 2008’ (WYD ‘08) ini berlangsung dari tanggal 14 hingga 20 Juli 2008 lalu di Sydney, Australia. Paus Benediktus XVI  hadir di tengah-tengah para utusan kaum muda katolik se-dunia itu. Tak ketinggalan, banyak orang muda katolik Indonesia hadir pula dalam pertemuan itu. Kendati Paroki Regina Caeli tidak mengirim utusan resmi, ada dua orang muda Regina Caeli yang hadir ke Sydney mewakili sekolah mereka, SMA Santa Ursula, yaitu  R Wijaya (lingkungan St. Dominikus) dan Emanuella Clarissa (lingkungan St. Melania).Tulisan di bawah ini merupakan oleh-oleh R Wijaya, yang ditulisnya dalam bahasa Inggris sesuai dengan tuntutan tugas dari sekolahnya.  



Being thrown in such a hectic colossal event like World Youth Day wasn’t exactly the way I was planning to end my summer holiday. But then, things don’t always go according to plan and all you can do is hope for the better. In my case, my prayer was answered.

This 2008 World Youth Day was my first time joining the event, so I didn’t have the slightest idea of what to expect. I thought I’d better come prepared, so I brought a huge travel bag full of warm clothing and souvenirs to give away. It never crossed my mind that the World Youth Day might surprise me in many ways, despite the preparation I did.


One of the surprises that I encountered during the pilgrimage was the warmth and kindness the pilgrims displayed toward each other. In spite of the differences the 320,000 pilgrims obviously had, there was no discrimination at all. It dawned on me that everybody came to understand, share, and strengthen the Catholic faith which brought us together. Therefore, there was no need to sweat on small matters, like countries and colors, because at our core, we’re all the same.


I was also somewhat surprised by how interesting the Catechesis and seminars were. I’m usually not the person who listens attentively through one whole class, as I easily get bored. So I was impressed when I found myself all ears during the sessions. It rarely happens, trust me. I was really grateful for the bishops and speakers who taught us pilgrims in such relaxed manner, yet managed to send each message crystal clear. One of the messages that touched me most was that Jesus has seen everything, even the worst, and now He has come back to tell us that all of our fears are bluff. Living in this world during this time sometimes makes me afraid. I’m frightened by varieties of things, uncertainties, losses, deaths, and many more. Therefore, it is really convenient to know that someone is there for us, watching over us. Another message that stayed long in my mind, even after the talk wrapped up, was about the importance of chastity. I was strengthened that true love will definitely wait instead of giving up to pure lust.


 Another thing that made lasting impression on my mind was seeing the Pope from afar and listening to his words. Before the World Youth Day, I saw the Pope as someone to whom I cannot relate, as he deals with much heavier problems which are really different from the ones I deal with. But, listening to him talking has made me proud that he is the one who is leading the Catholic Church now, as he is not only obviously more than capable of doing the job, but also humble enough to apologize for past faults.


 During the 9.2-kilo walk to Randwick Racecourse, I saw quite a lot of people who disliked the idea of World Youth Day and decided to strike up a demonstration. These people have issues with Catholic teachings, Pope, or others that I might not know, and they displayed their hatred head-on. They demanded that abortion be legalized, homo sexuality be allowed, etc. They also raged about the sexual abuses by priests, the very same problem which the Pope has apologized for. Because of the protest, I came to realize that although a lot of traditions and moral teachings that the Catholic Church preserves are disliked by many, the Catholic Church has decided to keep on going on the same road, instead of abandoning all for fear of being disliked.


 Through the series of activities and seeing the struggle the Catholic Church has to face, I was deeply moved. As a teenager, I used to care less about religion and thought of it as an obligation, something I am not enticingly happy about. Right now, I can proudly say that I am a Catholic!



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